Chapter 2- The Evolution of Public Relations

Readings from: Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics

Ancient Beginnings

  • Rosetta Stone- provided the key to modern understanding of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, which was basically a publicity release touting the pharoah’s accomplishments.
  • Saint Paul- the New Testament’s most prolific author, also qualifies for the public relations hall of fame.

Early Beginnings in America

  • Public relations played an active role in American independence. The Boston Tea Party was the inspiration of Samuel Adams, a man with a refined sense of how symbolism can sway public opinion.
  • Phineas T. Barnum- the great American showman of the 19th century, was the master of what historian Daniel Boorstin calls the pseudoevent, which is a plannned happening that occurs primarily for the purpose of being reported.

1900 to 1950: The Age of Pioneers

  • Samuel Insull- President of the Chicago Edison Company, who was well aware of the need for a public utility to maintain a sound relationship with its customers. He created a monthly customer magazine, issued a constant stream of news releases, and even used films for public relations purposes.
  • Henry Ford- America’s first major industrialist, who was among the first to use two basic public relations concepts. The first was the notion of positioning, the idea that credit and publicity always go to those who do something first. The second idea was being accessible to the press.
  • Teddy Roosevelt- was a master at promoting and publicizing his pet projects. He was the first president to make extensive use of news conferences and press interviews to drum up public support when Congress was often critical or nonsupportive. He was an ardent conservationist and knew the publicity value of the presidential tour.
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